Eating healthy is important for everyone but especially cancer patients, who often suffer from a lack of appetite caused by the side effects of their treatments. With that in mind, we’ve curated a day’s worth of delicious recipes—including vegetarian/vegan alternatives—for patients and families to share. And it’s just in time for National Cancer Survivor Month!
So if you’re cooking meals for a loved one who’s undergoing cancer treatment or making meals for yourself, check out these recipes and tips to make mealtime more enjoyable.
This yogurt parfait will help you simultaneously skip the starchy, fatty, sugary foods that dominate lots of breakfast menus and are closer to eating dessert instead of a whole bunch of morning nutrition.
The recipe: Yogurt Parfait—Combine Greek yogurt with fresh berries, 1 tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds, and a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg.
Tip: Use an organic fruit-and-veggie wash to clean produce before you eat it. Try frozen fruit if you don’t have time for a lot of prep. You don’t even have to thaw it!
Vegetarian/Vegan alternative: Experiment with non-dairy yogurts made from soy, coconut, or oats. Try adding a bit of unsweetened shredded coconut for texture and taste.
Two courses are better than one!
This sweet-and-savory potato appetizer offers a healthy blast of vitamin A, an antioxidant that helps guard against potential cancer risks, and bakes up to a tasty crisp on the outside, smooth on the inside texture.
The Recipe: Baked Sweet Potato Wedges
Tip: For extra protein, serve these wedges with a small side of plain, vanilla or dairy-free yogurt as a dip.
Follow the sweet potatoes with a warm, comforting cup of home-made old-fashioned chicken noodle soup, complete with vegetables. You can fix this classic in a Dutch oven or slow cooker.
Vegetarian/Vegan Alternative: Hearty Vegetable and Lentil Soup
Swap the meat-based protein source for a hearty blend of vegetables and legumes. One of the beauties of a recipe like this is its ability to accommodate other ingredients, such as quinoa or barley. To make this a truly vegan dish, use vegetable stock for the primary liquid.
You can’t lose the health game with either of these entrées.
Tip: Whether you prepare the trout in the oven or on a grill, you’ll benefit from its omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your heart and can lower your blood pressure. And when you flavor broccoli with scallions and hazelnuts in toasted sesame oil, you get a great blend of vitamin C and dietary fiber.
Vegetarian/Vegan Alternative: Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach Curry replaces the trout with this filling recipe, packed with plant-based protein and a mild, pleasant flavor. Spice it up if you prefer!
Plant-based alternatives make some of the best snacks, regardless of whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or none of the above. Nut butters on toasted pita wedges, hummus and whole-wheat or rice crackers, fresh fruit, or a luscious protein-packed chocolate smoothie all make for great treats throughout the day.
And no matter what you’re eating, make sure to include a lot of water and other hydrating beverages—cancer treatments are dehydrating, so replenishing lost fluids can make you feel much better. You might also want to focus on small, frequent meals because they’ll feel more manageable than large ones. Or, if you’re the cook and not the patient, remember to ask for recommendations from your loved one. That way, you’re preparing appealing foods that’ll be difficult to resist!